Maurice Gibbons (c) 2008 Personal Power Press International
Q: Here’s a one-foot square pane of glass. How many ways can you think of using it?
Tests—IQ tests or course tests--usually ask you to find the one right answer. Tests of creativity ask you how many answers can you devise, and among those how many original ones can you create. So for the pane of glass, you could start by making a window with it which is pretty ordinary. Then you could silver the back and make a mirror, which is better. You could also break it and cut the Thanksgiving turkey with a shard, or you could use it as a dangerous frisbee—now we’re getting somewhere.
How many more uses can you think of, and how many really original ones can you invent? Give it a try and taste creativity. Send your answers to me and we will make a list at the end of this activity (no peeking). This is a form of brainstorming which is always a useful technique when you are looking for the best, or most creative, answer. Make a list long enough to go beyond the ordinary, and then choose the best, the most original responses among them.
» Email Maurice
Everyone can be intelligent, and everyone can be creative, too.
When we are following directions we don’t need to be very creative, but when we are taking action, as we do in self-directed activities, we have to be creative. We want to create the most exciting ideas we can to work on, and as soon as we start any activity, problems will arise, problems that will require creative solutions. Being creative is important to success in self-direction.
Fortunately, we can all be creative: half of our brain is devoted to it. Unfortunately, most of our education is devoted to intelligence-thinking at the expense of creative-thinking, but the beauty of it is, your creative ability is just waiting to be encouraged and equipped, and that’s what we are going to start doing right now.
Learning to see
Intelligence-thinking is convergent; creative-thinking is divergent. To think creatively, you have to see differently, you have to see with all of you, everything you’ve got. That is why we begin with intense observation. You have looked many times before; now the object is to see.
When the new man reported to the lab, Louis Agassiz, the master biologist, gave him a fish to examine. The new man looked at it for an hour or two, made some notes and reported back. The biologist glanced at the work and threw it back. “You have seen nothing!” he said. The student spent the rest of that day and the next studying the fish. When he reported, he was again rebuked. Finally he settled down to work and several days later—amazed at what he had discovered—he reported in. The master looked at his observations and told him that at last he was beginning to see, and then gave him another fish to compare with the first.
Seeing with fresh eyes, and thinking about what we see with an open mind is the basic act of creativity.
With the Agassiz story in mind, let’s get right into it...
Thoughtful observation, the fine art of seeing: Pick something interesting to look at. A gear or other mechanical part would be good. Anything designed—clothes, equipment, or buildings--would work. Something from nature—a plant, nest, fossil, stone, rot or—of course, a fish--will do. Works of art can be good. Pick a single object; something with a little complexity; something you have not paused to look at closely before, something of interest, something that might be your touchstone or talisman for observation.
» Select your object and place it before you, or place yourself before it.
» Draw all of your attention together and focus it on your object. (See Agreements: Activity #6, Agreement #4).
» Examine the object carefully; notice everything you can about it.
» Hold your attention focused. Become absorbed. Make this object yours. 5 min. is okay; 15 min. is good; 30 min or more is excellent. Can you close your eyes and see it in your mind’s eye? In colour? Can you turn it around 360 degrees in your mental vision?
» Begin asking a series of questions about the object, considering all aspects of it, its nature, possible uses, manufacture, etc. Become more deeply absorbed.
» If your attention wanders, steer it back. Keep control; be the commander of your forces; do not give up. Practice.
In your journal—when you finish seeing--write down the most interesting things you observed in your object. Regularly stop and direct this intensity at something that catches your interest. You are thinking for yourself and much that you think will be original. This is basic.
Prepare for battle!
ake the object you just observed as a symbol of your capacity for intense focus, seeing, and original thinking. You will have, by now, confronted the enemy plotting your failure, and that enemy is you. Prepare to wage battle for control of your life. Begin here. If you can’t, or won’t, take control of your own powers, you cannot become self-directed.
Every scientist is a specialist in observation. Almost all of them keep their observations in a journal, and their observations have lead to every development in science. Think of Charles Darwin’s journals of observation kept while he traveled on the HMS Beagle to South America and the Galapagos Islands, the journals from which his theory of evolution grew. But of course artists, designers, and anyone thoughtful is observant, too. And they are the people who have won the battle for control of their powers.
*****Every time you learn something, you create new connections in your brain that add to its power. *****
Seeing what isn’t there
You have looked hard at what is there; now we’re going to look hard at what isn’t there. We are going to create in our imagination things that are not real, and see them as clearly as if they were. Think of it as a screen on which the images of your imagination play. Everything in the world that humankind has created appeared first on this screen in someone’s mind. Who knows what will appear on yours as you use your imagination more intentionally—when you do any project, for instance, and visualize the result you hope to achieve.
Relax, get comfortable, and turn on your inner screen.
Get comfortable (so your body position isn’t distracting). Relax by focusing on your breathing, and each time you breathe out, let more tension in your body flow away with the exhalation.
Home Base, our foothold in the inner world
Begin by imagining a favourite place, a place where you feel comfortable, safe and at ease. See it as clearly, and in as much detail, as you can. Take time to fill in details. Make sure there is colour and sound.
This is Home Base. De-stressing helps brain function and feels good. Come here whenever you need to relax and refresh, or when you are on your way into or out of visualization, as you are now. Learning to visualize takes practice. Practice seeing your Home Base until it’s vivid.
Home base is our launching pad (and our exercise gym) for journeys of the imagination.
Putting visualization to work in your field of interest.
Name your interest. Now imagine that you are already a master in your field of interest. One of my interests is sculpture. I am imagining that I am a master of carving and bronze casting like Auguste Rodin—he did The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell. Imagine a story in which you accomplish a great goal as a master in your field. In my story, I am in my large studio planning to create a great public sculpture. I have many expert helpers and I am creating a column of human bodies that is flowing out of the ground, rising in an arc and then flowing back into the ground again. (I like that idea and I can see doing it.) We model it in clay, make a mould, and then cast it in parts in a huge white-hot furnace. The sculpture is very large when assembled. The finished product is in a park, veiled, waiting for the ceremony in which it will be revealed to the public.
Imagine your unfolding story as you conduct a major project in your field of interest. There are no limits. Make it a good one with a satisfying ending. See it as clearly as you can. Let it have a life of its own and just watch, if you can. If it will help you to develop visualization skill, see your story again, and even again. If this is a promising story, summarize it in your journal. Practice visualizing possibilities regularly.
*****Please notice, these creative practices are not intended to replace intelligence thinking: creative-thinking is its partner to be called into action when needed—or just for fun. Put the two together and you have a terrific boost in productive power. When you fill the deep well, for example, you enrich the mind’s resources for creative connections; and when you create new ideas and apply them, what you learn in the process adds to the depth of the mind’s well. *****